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Good and Bad PR: Cheers for Waitrose and BrewDog, boos for BT

Hey hey media addicts, here I am again with the latest Good and Bad from the world of public relations. The weather is getting warmer which means that the journalists are getting friendlier, and the clients are loving everything that we all do… right?

Good PR

Waitrose (& Partners)
Moving swiftly on, let’s start with the Good side of the world. Step up everyone’s favourite posh supermarket; Waitrose (& Partners). This week the retail giant decided enough was enough on the plastics front and decided to ban all magazines that came with plastic toys (presumably not including Readers’ Wives). The polar bears screamed hoorah and more importantly, for the Waitrose (& Partners) press office, the BBC ran a big story on it, as did SkyNews and hundreds of other news outlets.

The move was a PR dream thanks to the rolled-oats and cumquat-famed retailer putting the move down to lobbying from a 10-year-old-girl from Wales (think Greta, but with a Welsh accent) and, of course, the always-Patagonia-clad enviro bunch. I may sound scathing, but it is a great operational decision that has triggered an avalanche of positive media and it came just a few days before the parent company, John Lewis (& Partners), announced it was permanently shutting a further eight stores (and removing nearly 1,500 of its much-mentioned Partners). So, a win all round really, apart from the Partners, of course.

Second up for Good PR is a brand I have previously knocked (and promptly received a few moany DMs on The Twitter for doing so); BrewDog. This time, it gets the Gold Star though, for its partnership with bargain basement supermarket Aldi.

For those with similarly short a memory as me, here is the potted history. Back in 2020, Aldi was accused by the shouty beer brand of creating a rip off of its IPA product. BrewDog replied by making an IPA beer called “Ald IPA” – see what it did? It made me smile anyway. The two brands kissed and made up and even changed the Facebook status to “in a relationship” by the retailer selling the Ald IPA range. You shout “contrived PR stunt”, I reply “how dare you”.

ANYWHO, pay attention. The beer has been going down so well that Zee German retailer is now going to stock the product in its German stores with the added PR bonus that for every case sold it is going to plant a tree. TLDR: Get drunk and save the planet.

Nice one BrewDog, love this campaign.

Bad PR

On to the Bad of the PR world… BT. At a time where the UK is being told to “carry on working from home” (note, the worst Carry On film I have ever seen), BT has managed to annoy its workers to the point where they are considering the first strike action in over 30 years.

The row is over potential job cuts and depot closures with the company saying it is needed because it wants to invest more in future technologies such as the roll out of 5G and the obvious changing societal working patterns, etc. With the strike vote getting closer, BT has clearly decided it needed to “change the optics” by announcing a one-off bonus for its front-line workers. It clearly hopes that if the workers vote to strike, it can then play this off against the bonus in the ensuing media war. Now, I am not one to defend a union, in fact, having worked at a senior level for a utility company I know just how obstructive and downright rude the union bosses can be, but in this case, BT looks to have carried out a cynical PR move that will antagonise the union and its members even more.

I will bet that the lads and ladies at ACAS are working hard, under instruction from senior level government officials, to try and prevent this strike from happening.

The cost of the UK internet network going down whilst people are trying to un-mute their Zoom mic and hide from the dreaded Microsnot Teams video-alert-chime could be astronomical and I would go as far as to say causes civil unrest in the Barr household alone if my kids can’t get on TikTok.

BT, we need you to sort this out and sort it out fast!

Written by Andy Barr, owner of 10 Yetis Digital. Seen any good or bad PR lately? Abuse and contradictory points welcomed over on The Twitter @10Yetis or on email

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